Skye and Kristel Saxon
Not all Sydney Hills Special Olympics athletes participate in our club’s core sports. Identical twins Skye and Kristel Saxon are winter sports fans, having taken to the snow slopes some years ago with the Mount Buffalo Ski Squad in the Victorian Alps. Today, having moved to The Hills, they partake in SO winter sports. Kristel is a snowboarder who competed in the 2019 National Winter Games.
Mum Karina says Skye took a little longer than Kristel to gain confidence on the slopes but both twins have learned and achieved a lot thanks to the ‘wonderful support’ of Disabled Wintersports Australia (DWA).
Perhaps not surprisingly, Skye and Kristel both say their chosen pursuit gives them ‘fun and freedom’. But for the two women, born in 1984, running was once their chosen athletic pursuit.
Art has been a major part of the twins’ lives; they communicated with pictures before they could speak. Today Skye works out of Studio A, a social enterprise that supports professional artists with an intellectual disability. She has exhibited at Gaffa Gallery, Kinokuniya Books, Carriageworks, the Underbelly Arts Festival and the Cementa Festival in Kandos, NSW. She is also working on a video game and interactive art work with Elias Nohra.
Dreams, memories and the metaphysical are the substance of Skye’s work; she describes her favourite superhero as ‘my own created characters’. Kristel, who is also working at Studio A, nominates Nintendo star Princess Zelda.
Skye’s favourite food is chocolate (‘of course’) and her favourite TV show Animations. They both cook (Skye ‘with support’). While they don’t own any pets, Kristel loves cats and Skye, foxes (she gives her nickname as Skye Fox).
Kristel’s most memorable holiday was visiting Thailand for her brother’s wedding, while Skye’s was a visit to Cairns where she rode a cable car, went snorkelling and hiked a mountain trail. Both trips were a long way from the snow country!
What national heritage would you say a boy whose favourite food was Korean noodles and whose top-rating TV show was the Korean program Running Man had?
If you said Korean you’d be right – but Davin Lee also likes sandwiches, fruit and ice-cream. He’s truly representative of modern multi-cultural Australia.
Davin plays in the Sydney Hills Special Olympics basketball program at Hills Grammar. But he also enjoys tennis and – where have you heard this before? – riding his bicycle.
This energetic 12-year-old’s top sports team is the NSW State of Origin side, so he’s a proud New South Welshman. His favourite animal? The rabbit. And his favourite Super Hero? Spiderman. Well, it would have to be. Spiderman is the creation of American Stan Lee!
The best holiday Davin ever had was a trip to Melbourne he and his parents undertook three years ago.
When he’s not doing lay-ups, pedalling furiously or imitating Roger Federer on the court, Davin can be found playing with his Lego set. How’s that for an all-rounder?
Olivia Faith Salonga
Special Olympics provides sporting opportunities to athletes of all ages. One of the newer members of the Sydney Hills family is Olivia Salonga (b. 2011), who started swimming on Thursday evenings at Oakhill College pool in 2018.
Olivia’s mum Bless, says Olivia loves the water, so it’s no surprise that her favourite holiday spot is Jervis Bay on the NSW South Coast, where the family stayed at Green Patch in beautiful Booderee National Park.
We don’t know whether Olivia enjoyed her favourite foods of rice and noodle dishes and prawns at Green Patch, but she certainly does at home.
And what do you think this enthusiastic water sportsgirl’s pets are? Dogs? Cats? No – two goldfish!
Olivia’s favourite TV show is Super Simple Songs, and she also loves music and dancing.
Great to have you join us, Olivia, and we hope to see big things from you in the future!
Visit Oakhill College any Monday night and you’ll see Ashlie Becker doing the laps – and at speed, too! Or come on Tuesday and you’ll see her jigging and jiving at the dance class.
This enthusiastic athlete, born in 1993, has been with Special Olympics since 2005 and is making a great contribution to the Sydney Hills club.
Ashlie has swum in competition after competition, including the State Games, the Junior Nationals in Tasmania and the 2018 Adelaide Nationals, as well as the regional swimming carnivals organised by Hills SO at Oakhill College. She gained two first places – in the 50m backstroke and the 50m freestyle – in the March 2019 regional carnival.
She enjoys netball and is an ardent follower of the Sydney Swifts.
Ashlie works at Coles in Castle Towers – just the place to buy her favourite food – chips – and the ingredients for the meal she most likes to cook – pasta and meatballs.
In 2018 she went on a holiday to Spain France and Italy, which she loved. Lucky Ashlie!
When you think of Nicholas Zrnic, the expression ‘high flying’ comes to mind. He’s a gymnast par excellence, competing in the Nationals in 2014 and 2018 (where he picked up seven medals) in the Down Syndrome world games in Florence in 2016 (gold in the high bar) and the European championship in 2018.
Gymnastics, however, is not the only sport the talented 26-year-old engages in. You’ll also see him in the pool at Oakhill College and on the basketball court at Castle Hill High, and he’s pretty good at both sports. He also revelled in ice skating when the Norwest Business Park rink was open.
So, what is Nick’s favourite sports team? … the Los Angeles Lakers of course, championship after championship spearheaded by superstars like Magic Johnson and Kobe Bryant. No surprise then that his favourite programs on TV are basketball games (plus Xbox).
Nick’s favourite foods are meat and pizza (plenty of protein to build up his muscles) and his Number One Super Hero is the Green Arrow. The best holiday he ever had was visiting his relatives in Croatia.
Off the basketball court he loves nothing better than ten-pin bowling and the movies.
When it comes to holidays, ten-pin bowler Christine Lam knows exactly what her favourite was: a trip to Japan with her mother where she visited a warm sandpit.
That’s probably the other end of the spectrum from a bowling alley, but the 36-year-old loves her bowling too. Not to mention cooking, swimming and the gymnasium. She’s especially fond of dumplings and dogs (the animal, not the edible, kind).
A keen supporter of the Sydney Swans (yes, AFL not ARL!), Christine’s favourite TV show is The Chase Australia and her favourite Super Hero (no surprises here!) is Wonder Woman.
Outside Special Olympics, Christine really enjoys attending peer support groups where she can make even more new friends
Call by the Castle Hill High gymnasium any Wednesday night during term time and chances are you’ll see a blonde lady sitting on the sidelines intently watching the Hills Special Olympics basketball action. And why wouldn’t she? Her son, Steven, is out there, practising bounce passes and pass fakes and layups with the best of ’em.
No benchwarmer, this: Steven is right into the thick of it. Indeed, one of his goals in Special Olympics is to get better at basketball.
Steven swims (breaststroke and backstroke) and dances as well as playing basketball. A veteran of regional carnivals in both swimming and basketball plus a State Basketball Carnival, his enthusiasm is contagious.
Dad Richard, sister Rachelle and brother Matthew are big supporters of Steven’s sporting efforts as well, although we don’t know whether they share his liking for chicken wraps (his favourite food). Mum, Lynda, is the basketball co-ordinator.
When he’s not dribbling the ball or reeling off laps in the Oakhill College pool, Steve enjoys listening to music and watching it on the computer, as well as watching DVDs. His favourite sporting team is the Brisbane Broncos.
We can forgive him these minor lapses. He’s a great competitor and a real asset to Sydney Hills Special Olympics.
Just wondering, though: who does he barrack for in State of Origin?
Melany Newman, joined Hills Special Olympics in 2012. Melany is an enthusiastic dancer who is extremely proud of winning most improved dancer in her group for 2014.
“Special Olympics gives me the opportunity to participate in sports events, meet other athletes and make new friends,” she says.
With the support of her father Geoff, Mother Angela and brothers Stuart and Troy, Melany also enjoys ten-pin bowling and netball during the winter months.
Her favourite sports team? You guessed it – the Australian Womens Netball Team, the Diamonds. So far as she’s concerned, Diamonds really are forever.
The best word to describe Emma Matthews is “all-rounder”. This bubbly young lady is a swimmer, dancer, ten-pin bowler and netballer. And she’s good at them all! Emma represented NSW in the swimming at the Special Olympics Nationals in October 2014 winning silver and bronze, but she’s also a member of the Rockets ten-pin bowling club at Hornsby who compete and travel nationally each year within the disability bowling competitions.
Emma plays netball on Saturday afternoons, works in the hairdressing industry and manages to fit in gym sessions during the week.
Her favourite food – which gives her lots of energy for all the activities she undertakes – is chicken kebab.
Mum Christine and Dad Neil have three other children – Sheree, Ben and Sam. The family is getting bigger all the time, now with five beautiful grandchildren.
Emma’s sport heroes are swimmer Michael Klim and athlete Cathy Freeman.
Truly inspirational, Emma.
See how you can get involved
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